American prog band Heresy have been inactive since the late 1980’s, and now they return with their 3rd album ‘Prufrock’, an adaptation of the T S Eliot poem, now, I’ll be honest here I am unfamiliar with both Heresy and Eliot’s’ work, whilst I know he also wrote The Wasteland, and he’s influenced a variety of different artists when it came to poetry I was always a Seamus Heaney or Simon Armitage reader, and yet, like the work of the Alan Parsons Project you don’t have to be familiar with the source material to enjoy this album.
Yes, there’s bound to be a comparison with both APP and indeed the very English prog sound of Looking Glass Lantern, who have made two highly accessible and intelligent adaptations of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books. This is no bad thing, because when musical adaptations on literary themes work well, they work incredibly well, and Heresy hit the spot here, the music and lyrics combine to create an eminently listenable piece of music that flows beautifully.
The album is split into two main suites, The love song of J Alfred Prufrock pts 1 & 2, which are neatly choreographed song suites that segue beautifully, with the hook line, ‘In the room, the women come and go, talking ‘bout Michelangelo’, refrained throughout the whole album, and is a line that will stick with you all day, and with the core band expanded by such musical sounds as flute, trumpet, sax and violin the musical palette they create is expansive and never loses it focus or impact.
The vocals from Tony Garone are superb throughout, with one of those wonderfully warm voices that is at turns sympathetic and empathetic to the material that the band are creating, a heady mix of rock, symphonica, baroque and whatever else fits the bill, having been 30 years in the conception you can tell the band have crafted the album round the source work, rather than shoehorn the poem into some music, and it’s this attention to detail and care taken to present the poem as a whole that really makes this album stand out from the crowd, and the linking piece of Night Vigil that splits the main suites in two is a far heavier piece, with some ominous guitar and keyboard sounds (and a very Floydian feel) apparently it is a part of the poem that was lost, and only included in later editions published after Eliot’s death (kind of like the deluxe edition of the poem if you will) and has a touch of the Van Der Graaf Generators about it, with the sax sound and vocals.
There is beautiful piano and guitar work throughout this album, and anyone who says the idea of a concept album is dead should be locked in a room and made to listen to this, this sounds amazing, is superbly consistent throughout and whilst Heresy are American they have made one of the most English sounding albums for a while.
As a bonus on the album there’s a track from a Tony Garone solo album, and 6 tracks from their debut previously unavailable on CD before, wisely these have been added on to the end, as the style, unsurprisingly is different from ‘Prufrock’, and they are worth listening to, so you can see how Heresy have developed as writers and performers.
This is well made, intelligent and complete album that will happily sit on the shelf of anyone who enjoys literary progressive rock, and is happy to immerse themselves in the album for an hour or so, as this is one of those beautiful records where you need to switch off social media, ignore the cats, pop on the headphones and lose yourself in the music, and after all at the end of the day, what more could anyone want from a record?
Released 5th December 2016